Daniel was a young man with hyperactive, inattentive behavior. By the time he was a teenager, he had failed one grade and was struggling both in school and at home. His parents were too close to the problem: They just thought he was “acting like a teenager” and attribute his behavior to normal teen age rebellion. However, after a disastrous dinner in a local restaurant with a family friend, they decided to take action with their friend’s support. Like many family members of people suffering behavior problems, they had become immune to the problem – they were used to a functionally dysfunctional family.
Daniel was taken to diagnostic psychologist and given a battery of neuropsychological tests. A diagnosis Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was rendered, along with a further recommendation that Daniel be given a further battery of tests by a sub-specialist, a neurophysiologist. Further testing was done, and the diagnosis was confirmed.
Living with Daniel during this phase of testing was truly hellish for his parents. Weeks were going by and Daniel wasn’t receiving any treatment because Daniel’s parents were reluctant to simply take him to a pediatrician and risk getting the behavioral drug “flavor of the day.” Daniel’s parents fully accepted the principle of diagnosis first, treatment second. But that didn’t make it any easier to lice with a babbling hyperactive teenager.
After three rounds of diagnostic testing and analysis, Daniel was prescribed stimulant medication. Daniel responded to the medication extremely well, and becoming aggressive, especially late in the day when his stimulant medication starting wearing off.
Fortunately Daniel’s aggression was not physically violent. Unfortunately, his verbal aggression was causing extreme conflict with the various members of him family. Subsequent follow up consultations with his treatment team were a failure and his behavior deteriorated further. Medication compliance became spottier, and the resultant verbally aggressive behavior escalated. Now a high school student, Daniel’s parents were on the verge of shipping him off to boarding school or other relatives – they were at the breaking point emotionally and their marriage was threatened by the daily hell of their abnormally normal family life.
Fortunately, Daniel’s parents learned of Dr. Daniel Amen’s pioneering work in neuro-imaging. Dr. Amen, the world’s leading pioneer in the use of SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computer Tomography). SPECT allows a trained neuroscientist to examine living human brain and determine which areas of the brain are overactive, under and which ones are working correctly. This just made sense to Daniel’s parents: How do you know what parts in an organ as complex as the brain are working correctly unless you actually look? Guessing had produced some beneficial results, but Daniel’s behavior was still unacceptable. A complete solution was needed, not a partial one.
Daniel’s parents had him flown to one of the Amen Clinics for a complete neuropsychological evaluation, neuropsychological testing and two brain scans – a resting scan and an active scan. In every case, it was explained to them by the Amen Clinic staff, a SPECT scan is not a doctor in a box. The patient’s history and neuropsychological testing are just as important to an accurate diagnosis as the brain scans. In Daniel’s case, the resting and concentration scans showed what appeared to be and impact trauma to his temporal lobe – an area of the brain where numerous scientific studies have shown that aggressive behavior and irritability are found when this are is injured.
This was stunning revelation – none of the other indirect testing and educated guesses had detected it. It should be noted that the people making these educated guesses are some of the most respected psychologists and physicians in their fields. However, how could they know unless they looked? SPECT showed the brain injury as certainly as an X-ray would show a broken bone.
Now armed with this irrefutable proof that their son had a second area of brain dysfunction, Daniel’s treatment program was amended to include specific treatments tailored to his individual need to heal his right temporal lobe.
Daniel’s parents were cautioned that his new treatment regimen would not show results for up to thirty (30) days. Yet within one week, noticeable results were evident.
Daniel’s treatment is ongoing, and further updates will be posted as he improves. This story really brings home just how off target our usual treatment methods are. If Daniel had been arrested and sentenced, he would have been court ordered into “cookie cutter” counseling of some sort. Now, ask yourself the$64,000 question: Can counseling heal a broken bone? No more than counseling can heal a medical problem in someone’s brain.
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